12 contents

The City

Reality and Utopia

An itinerary through the “city” by artists and architects like Laguillo, Domènec, Thomas Bayrle or Jordi Colomer, among others.

In Laguillo’s own words: “Almost thirty years after beginning this work, I realise once again that its subject matter is not space. Contradicting my own statements on the matter, and going beyond what might seem based on that which figures prominently in my photographs, they deal with change and movement; in short, they deal with time.” Laguillo’s images focus on the new peripheral areas of the city, including the industrial estates around the Besós, the industrial areas of Poblenou and the intersection between rural and urban environments in the delta of the Llobregat river. As the architect and theorist Ignasi de Solà-Morales has pointed out, Loguillo’s photographs are a good reflection of the notion of terrain vague: territorial signs of the strangeness that stems from contemporary social life. At the same time, while architectural photography tends to focus on buildings and ignores the whole, Laguillo’s images show the fabric of the city (which depends on the community) and reflect the idea of a living being.
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La veu de l’artista: Domènec parla de l’exposició “Ni aquí ni enlloc” [Enregistrament audiovisual]
19-4-2018 – 11-9-2018
Some of the contradictions of modernity, modern thought and especially modern architecture arise from discrepancies between the ideological and aesthetic discourse. For Domènec, architecture is a ‘political subconscious’ that allows him to reconstruct the critical and poetic universe of authors such as Alvar Aalto, Mies van der Rohe and Le Corbusier, and to reappraise them as the ideologues of the modern aesthetic project who, as architects, were able to shed new light on the role of the artist.
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[0199_004_cmyk / Imatge] El lloc i les coses
El lloc i les coses
Jordi Colomer
Jordi Colomer reverses the normal use of models in architecture – pure objects which point to perfect cities and ideal visions – with an antimodel which shows a ‘used’ city. With references to Malevich’s ‘architektons’, the artist does not aim to show an ideal model but rather reconstruct the disorder of an already existing city. The model is not now presented as a project but as a reproduction of what is real. The small table, placed under the main one, displays damaged blocks of plaster, some eaten away, as a representation of an urban subworld.
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Like J.A. Coderch, Hansen was a member of the group of architects Team 10, the first critical voice against the modernist orthodoxy of the Athens Charter and the followers of Le Corbusier. Hansen presented his Open Form theory at a meeting in Otterlo in 1959 and continued to develop it through projects on various scales: from the design of exhibitions to his Linear Continuous System, a project for cities conceived as a network – akin to Constant’s New Babylon and Yona Friedman’s Megastructures – throughout Poland and the European continent. While the territorial aspirations of Open Form may suggest that it was a model for total planning, its main interest was in developing strategies of indeterminacy, flexibility and collective participation.
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[4092_001_pub / Imatge] Stadt
Thomas Bayrle
A significant part of Bayrle’s works is centred round the city. Stadt (City), 1976 and 1977, is a collage made of urban elements: trains, cars, houses, buildings and skyscrapers. The composition becomes a maquette of motorways and urban roads that crisscross each other like a living organism. The works project the idea of ‘wonderfully monotonous cities’, as Bayrle himself explains, where the actions of individuals amount to a mere ‘micro-democracy’.
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Millions of photographs have captured Barcelona’s ongoing metamorphosis since the 1980s, but very few of these images have carved out a place in the collective memory and imaginary. There is still a need for images of our times, images that help us to objectify the major transformations of the present, and allow us to hone our intuitions on the Barcelona of the future.
The selection of images published here is part of a photographic study of the city carried out between 2007 and 2008. The study focuses on the polarities of Barcelona’s metamorphosis, and is structured around three main themes: Work and AuthoritiesConvergences and Dispersions and Representations.
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[3593_004_hist / Imatge] Construction aux plans transparents
Construction aux plans transparents
In 1956 Constant began to work on New Babylon, a visionary architectural proposal for a future society. ‘What is New Babylon actually?’ Constant wrote in 1966. ‘Is it a social utopia? An urban architectural design? An artistic vision? A cultural revolution? A technical conquest? A solution to the practical problems of the industrial age?’ Constant maintained that New Babylon dealt with all of these questions, envisaging a society in which traditional architecture has disintegrated along with the social institutions that it propped up. Every reason for aggressivity had been eliminated in New Babylon, making place for a society of creative people who are freed from stultifying everyday work, for a new species: Homo Ludens (man the player).
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This three-part miniseries looks back at the 7th Congress of the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design (ICSID) and pieces together an ensemble narrative based on the testimonies of some of its protagonists. Forty-one years after the Congress in Eivissa, designers, architects, artists, philosophers and other professionals from the cultural field come together again to reconstruct and analyse the spirit of that adventure. The interviews that are reproduced here were originally recorded on video and are part of the exhaustive research behind the exhibition ‘Utopia is Possible. ICSID. Eivissa, 1971’.
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In this podcast, Manuel Sanfuentes talks about the tradition of the troubadours and the journey to the inland sea, about interruptions, gerunds, and roaming, about impropriety, hospitality, and cemeteries; about learning by doing, the world’s trades, and the poetic echoes that prevent doing from becoming mere doing. We also talk about how to organise an agora based on consent rather than democracy, of which the only record that remains is orality.
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The five untitled photographic compositions from the late seventies and early eighties that are part of the MACBA Collection are good examples of this rigorous geometric exercise in the visual demarcation of space, but at the same they are just one aspect of what he calls his “vocabulary”. In this interview, Downsbrough takes these works as a point of departure to discuss the rest of his oeuvre, from his fascination with photography to his experiments with language, publications (as another space to explore), and the urbanistic peculiarities of two of the most frequent settings of his works: the cities of New York (where he began working as an artist at the start of his career in the sixties), and Brussels, where he has lived since 1989.
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Motor de modernitat. Grup R. Arquitectura, art i disseny [Enregistrament audiovisual exposició]
5-2-2014 – 24-6-2014
MACBA Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona
The exhibition Motor of Modernity. Grup R. Architecture, Art and Design analyses the impact and shock generated in Barcelona by the presence of Grup R, when they became a catalyst in both Catalan architecture and aesthetic culture for the recovery of a lost modernity in the years after the Civil War. The group countered the official styles with other resources, and astutely assimilated European architectural trends. But when they reached it, the consensus represented by the CIAM (International Congress of Modern Architecture), directed by Le Corbusier, was already out of favour for the young architects of Team X, whom Grup R saw as models. Individualism became the norm in Europe and as a consequence the group disbanded in 1961.
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